When something doesn’t go the way my daughter wants, watch out. She can get really upset. It’s no fun.
In those moments, I don’t want her to feel like her strong emotions are unacceptable or “bad.” So my practice is to stay. I try to listen with compassion.
Until I can’t.
You know this point. It’s when your patience has run dry. It’s become too much. You can’t listen compassionately anymore because your own feelings are strong.
We have choices now. This is the crucial moment. It’s in this pause between the stimulus (wailing child) and our response where our freedom lies.
a.) Stay no matter how you feel.
b.) Have your child leave the scene – by encouragement or force, so that you can recover.
c.) Take a time-out yourself to recover.
What do you do?
Deep listening is a keystone of mindfulness practice. We practice to be a supportive presence. Whether it’s with children or family and friends, being attentive and compassionate heals. It creates true connection.
However, we are human. We aren’t perfect. Speaking for myself, I know I’m not enlightened. I have lots of moments when I don’t have perfect serenity.
We have emotions that get triggered. Unresolved stuff. Habits of reaction. Bad days. We can only absorb so much of someone else’s suffering. Then it becomes harmful to ourselves. How can we listen compassionately at this point?
Can we have too much compassion?
Deep, empathetic listening is a transformative practice in my mindfulness tradition. In yoga, Ahimsa is the precept of non-harming. It is also a key practice I work with clients on in my coaching program. Compassionate listening connects us. It helps us understand where the other is coming from. It’s essential to practice with our children. When they feel heard, there is more cooperation and peace in the family.
But the Buddha also taught that self-care and taking the middle path are essential too. Going to extremes creates suffering. We cannot give if our cup is empty. We cannot listen deeply if we are drained and upset ourselves.
Let’s go back to our upset child.
You are listening and empathizing as a conscious parent tries to do. The intensity of the situation triggers your strong feelings. Your throat gets tight. Shoulders and jaw become tense.
Will you choose A, B, or C?
Option A means staying with your child at all costs. Compassion for the other above all. However, then your anger, frustration or tears may burst forth. Your emotional reaction feeds your kid’s emotions. Things escalate. Without taking care of yourself, you’ve lost your grounding.
In option B, you shuttle your child away. The message here is that strong emotions are dealt with alone. They are not acceptable. Looking at the ways adults deal with their emotions alone – binge eating, drinking, etc. – this option doesn’t look so great.
With option C you take your own time-out to recover your equanimity. Get a breath of fresh air. Breath and move with some gentle yoga. Wish yourself loving-kindness. I will do a forward fold in a separate room and breathe deeply. When you come back and listen, you can respond mindfully and lovingly.
Also, when you take a time-out for self-care, your child sees it and learns from your example – bonus points!
Sigh, parenting’s not easy is it? But these are the moments that make it a powerful spiritual path. It is these challenges that help us grow.
In an ideal world, we would have the equanimity to stay totally grounded and calm during an outburst. It’s a noble thing to practice and aspire to. But we are human. We are not perfect and that’s okay. Please don’t berate yourself for your own feelings. Practice compassion for all beings – including yourself.
Now it’s your turn.
Cultivating awareness around this means looking at how we were parented. How did you deal with strong emotions when you were a kid? Please share in the comments below.
Thanks so much for reading, and thank you so much for the comments. I love getting into discussions about this stuff! Have a wonderful week!
P.S. Please share this post if you’ve benefited! And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter, the only place where I share personal insights into mindful living.Leave a comment
My 4-year old is sitting in a basket. My 7-year old is pulling herself over to the stairway on a pillow. The floor is the ocean, of course. They climb up the stairs (rocks) to continue their game.
I don’t interrupt this play despite the need to get to the store this afternoon. Our errand can wait.
You may be surprised to hear that I don’t enroll my girls in yoga for kids. I don’t try to get them to meditate. While it can be fun, young children don’t need yoga and meditation.
They are already in the moment. They don’t resist their feelings. They are fully attentive to what is right now. So no kid’s yoga unless they start asking for it.
Then how do we teach children to be peaceful?Leave a comment
Have you ever wondered how to optimize your energy? How to take healing into your own hands?
In this month’s podcast, I talk to Cate Stillman of YogaHealer.com. She is a teacher of Ayurveda – yoga’s 5,000-year old system of good health. As Cate says, Ayurveda is to look at and understand who we are and what is this body.
We talk about her journey into yoga for healing.
We talk about being a yoga mama.
We talk about surfing, becoming location-independent, and a freedom-based lifestyle.
Cate talks about beginning yoga, “I was so inflexible – physically and mentally.”
And don’t miss Cate’s technique for managing family life AND her tips for jumping out of bed in the morning energetically.
Enjoy, share, and help us get more listeners by leaving us a review in iTunes!
Also – don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter for personal insights I only share via email!Leave a comment
You know that what you eat is important to your health and well-being. It’s common knowledge that what we consume either nurtures us or depletes us.
But do you know that what you take in from TV, magazines, radio, music, the internet – even certain conversations- can be harmful?
Like many women, I used to indulge in some celebrity and other “womens” magazines that hung around the gym while I was on the elliptical machine.
Clearly it wasn’t Faulkner, but I figured it didn’t do much harm and helped me exercise while I couldn’t run.
What I didn’t realize was how I responded to those images.Leave a comment
My mission here is to support you in having a healthier and more mindful life.
I’ve been working on some new Mindful Core Strength yoga videos that will be coming soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this free one:
I believe that we can and should take yoga out of the studio and into our homes. Yoga practice can be a short break in your day that revives you and reconnects your body-mind and spirit in the present.
Enjoy this 17-minute practice as a short break during your holiday weekend. Enjoy some time just for you.
P.S. Make sure you sign up for my weekly newsletter for personal insights I only give out via email!Leave a comment